If you still haven’t seen Le Show host Harry Shearer’s documentary, The Big Uneasy, you can catch it at the Elmwood Theater in Berkeley this Saturday at 4:30 pm, followed by a QA with the author. The next day Shearer will produce his radio show from the studios of KALW-FM, the public station of the San Francisco Unified School District (91.7 FM).
Kelly Vance reviewed the film for the East Bay Express (spoiler alert):
The doc’s talking-heads trio of expert witnesses/whistleblowers believes it is the Corps of Engineers, not the popular scapegoat FEMA , that should be blamed for flooding 80 percent of the city of New Orleans. The cause was structural failures in the flood protection system, including the city’s defective pumping equipment and poorly designed levees. According to Dr. Ivor van Heerden of the Louisiana state hurricane safety team investigating the flood; UC Berkeley civil and environmental engineering professor Dr. Robert Bea , who was on hand in the aftermath as a volunteer scientist; and Maria Garzino , a civilian contract specialist for the Corps, there was no oversight of the Corps of Engineers’ operations in the years before Katrina. Poor choices were made for dubious reasons.
I’m a big fan of Shearer’s program, available via podcast. He’s has the delightful ability to be annoyed, bemused, insightful, slightly whiny, and very funny all at the same time. My big claim to fame is that he read one of my Ars Technica stories about the DTV transition (remember that?) back in 2008 with a wonderfully, well, bemused tone.
“This is from a trade website,” Shearer explained in his faux perky voice. “It’s called Ars Technica . . . about technical stuff! I’ll read it to you. It’s about the digital wonderland!”
“‘The Federal Communications Commission has authorized a fix’,” he began, then started to chuckle, “‘that it hopes will resolve a potentially big digital television transition glitch’.”
“Really . . . now they tell us!” Shearer interjected.
Anyway, I got a huge kick out of how amusing he made my rather technical article. He put a bed of light jazz music under the reading, which heightened the absurdity of the whole issue.
Correction: a previous version of this article attributed the above review to Kevin Vance of KALW rather than Kelly Vance of the East Bay Express. Apologies.